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Kerri McLean

For every selfish so-and-so out for themselves during this horrible virus, there are good souls going out of their way to help others

Kerry McLean


One of the things that my husband and I have in common is a love of old films and TV series. Not the award-winning, deep and meaningful type but instead the cult offerings, the ones that were made on a budget, that looked a little cheap around the edges at the time they were made and doubly so now that a few decades have passed. Top of our list would be old horror films, nothing gory or truly frightening but something where Christopher Lee pops up as Dracula or where a mummy appears, arms outstretched and wrapped in toilet roll.

A quick and simple costume choice in those days but it would be easier to dress an actor in angel feathers given the current circumstances.

I couldn't begin to count the number of disaster films we've watched, where a man (and it's always a man in those old films) pops up in a white coat to announce, in an authoritarian voice, that he's a scientist and that an invisible foe is attacking the earth.

What usually follows is some stock footage of people running and a few close-ups of women screaming before the hero steps in and saves the day.

We've spent years watching these films and it feels so very strange that we seem to be in the midst of a similar plot. But unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a hero on the horizon.

I really hadn't wanted to write about this horrible virus. Partly because it feels like we could all do with a break from the relentless doom and gloom but possibly because, subconsciously and in a childish way, I've felt like if I don't talk about it or think about it too much it might just disappear, like the bogeyman under the bed.

Sadly, no such luck. Every news bulletin brings stories of almost unimaginable numbers affected and pictures of humanity at their worst, with people jostling or even fighting each other for food and cleaning products.

The worst I've watched was a clip of a well dressed woman in her 40s who walked up to a very elderly woman in a supermarket and, in a physically aggressive way, attempted to wrestle her packet of toilet rolls from her. Luckily some other shoppers intervened but how can people think that kind of behaviour is acceptable?

How can she act that way and sleep at night?

I'm thankful that for every selfish so-and-so, there's at least a couple of good souls out there, going out of their way to help others.

You only have to look on Facebook or Twitter to see offers being made for all sorts, from collecting and delivering food to the infirm, to teachers stuck at home, offering online help if children, or more likely their parents who're attempting to teach them whilst under self-isolation, get stuck.

I'm trying to focus in on the positive stories of people pulling together and not become too upset and stressed but it's hard. I'm sure there are lots of people who feel the same way reading this now.

But in the midst of feeling rapidly rising levels of worry for elderly members of my family and for the risk posed to both my youngest two and myself who all have asthma there have been a few moments of levity this week and if ever there has been a time when a laugh or two was needed, it's now.

On Monday my pal sent me a photo of her mother's bathroom. Not for her the stockpiling of toilet rolls. Instead there was a mountain of last weekend's newspapers, neatly cut into squares and ready for use. If it was good enough for her as a girl, she said, it was good enough for her now.

When my friend asked her mum what papers she had used, given that she'd just been belatedly reading last weekend's Belfast Telegraph, her mother explained that she had sent my mate's dad out to get the national newspapers for use in the bathroom.

Why, asked her daughter and the response came back, "Well, sure your friend writes for the Tele. I wouldn't feel right using someone local when I'm on the toilet".

Thanks for saving my column from that fate!

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